Yahoo, Gracenote to unveil Online Lyrics Library

Yahoo and Gracenote logos Yahoo Inc. is increasing its online music section to add in the lyrics of 400,000 songs, anticipating hitting the right nerve of the web surfers seeking a more reliable alternative to Internet sites that publish the words without the permission of the copyright owners.

Yahoo claims to introduce the free service on Tuesday, and boasts of it to be the web’s largest legally licensed database of lyrics.

“It fills a huge, gaping hole out there,” said Ian Rogers, general manager of Yahoo music.

Getting song lyrics from websites is not a big deal indeed. However most of those destinations are technically violating the law by posting the words without seeking permissions and approval of the publishers and writers that own the rights.

Furthermore, several of these unauthorized lyric sites rely on contributions from outsiders, a communal approach that increases the chances for inaccuracies.

On the other has Yahoo’s song lyrics are supposed to be the official versions. Under the licensing agreement, Yahoo will share with copyright holders the revenue from the ads that will be displayed alongside the lyrics.

The database and licensing deals were cobbled together over the past two years by Gracenote, a digital media management specialist. The Emeryville-based company, formerly known as CDDB, is best known for developing technology that automatically recognizes the tracks on compact discs – a feature that is included in Apple Inc.’s widely used iTunes software.

The 400,000 song lyrics included in Yahoo’s database span about 9,000 different artists, ranging from old classics such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan to more recent stars like Radiohead and Beyonce.

Around 100 music publishers are contributing song lyrics, including industry biggies such as BMG Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group and Warner/Chappell Music.

Though other lyrics sites claim to have even more songs than Yahoo’s database, the Sunnyvale, California-based is confident that its lyrics library is sure to become a hit because it won’t be bogged down with the pop-up ads and other intrusive “spyware” that clutters many of the sites that share lyrics without permission.

“Those sites generally aren’t healthy places for your computer to be,” said music analyst Phil Leigh of Inside Digital Media.

Leigh proclaimed Yahoo’s lyric database as a “long overdue” breakthrough that will redefine and boost the music industry by creating a new revenue stream for artists and song publishers by making it easier for people to identify a tune they might hear on the radio or on the web.

“I also suspect this might cause the music industry to step up its efforts to take legal action against these unauthorized (lyric) sites with Yahoo cheering them on in the background,” Leigh continued.

So get ready for some genuine Song Lyrics from U2, Prince, The Beatles, Elvis Presley and More, sans spyware and other unwanted intrusions.